Unsure what games you should play with your toddler while camping? Here, you’ll find all you need to keep them entertained all day long.
There are many camping games that are suitable for toddlers. Some of these include telling stories, exploring nature, Bingo, and hide and seek. That said, it’s important to make sure any game you play is suitable for the child’s level of development.
Aside from the games listed above, there are many more that toddlers will love. Continue on, and you’ll get numerous ideas for keeping your toddler happy out in nature!
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Choosing Games For Toddlers
For the most part, you can’t really expect any game you might play to be suitable for a toddler. Ultimately, they have different needs.
Toddlers are still in the process of learning language, movement and even understanding basic concepts about the world around them. Consequently, they need games that are suitable for their skill level. Often times, these games help them to grow their knowledge and skills over time.
If you’re unsure what developmental level your child is at when it comes to the games they could be playing, Pathways.org is a great place to start getting some ideas.
Because toddlers can move through their developmental stages so quickly, you may want to save money by using some simple DIY games. That way, you won’t have to worry about buying all new toys for every stage of development. We have a handy article on making your own easy DIY camping games here.
Additionally, you can look below for some fantastic games your toddler is sure to love.
Camping Games That Are Perfect For Toddlers
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is a simple game that most people already know how to play. However, you can really jazz up the experience by playing in the great outdoors! It’s easy to have fun playing hide and seek outside, but there are a few additions to the rule that should be considered for younger players.
Toddlers could easily get lost or hurt by accident if they’re searching around a larger outdoor area. Because of that, it can be a good idea to keep the game small. Try playing in a tent with the help of blankets or sleeping bags, or make sure there is a clear boundary to keep small children at the campsite.
It can be easier to play hide and seek outdoors if you have another adult around who is “helping” your toddler. They may not tell them where other people are hiding, but they can make sure the child is staying safe as they walk around outside.
The world is so much larger to toddlers than it is to us. Consequently, there are so many things for them to enjoy seeing and learning about. A camping trip creates the perfect space for exploring and learning all about the world around them, with your help!
You can start by taking a short walk, stopping here and there to point out plants or animals your child might not be familiar with. It’s a great opportunity to teach them about those different natural entities at a level they can easily understand.
There really isn’t anything that can get a toddler more interested than if you spot some wildlife. Although seeing deer may be commonplace in your area, it’s almost guaranteed to be a remarkable experience for your toddler.
Another resource you can often make use of is the events put on by the park. If you’re staying in a campground, there may be activities or discovery spaces created by rangers that you can enjoy with your child. When you’re heading out on a trip, take some time to check out activities that your toddler might enjoy.
For example, nearby us in a Texas state park, there’s a discovery center where they lend out explorer kits with magnifying glasses and some information about what types of insects, plants and animals you might find.
Bingo is easy to play just about anywhere. When it comes to camping, you’re sure to find that creating your own Bingo game either for free or at a very inexpensive price is no trouble at all. All you really need is a pen, some paper, and a little imagination.
You can easily download some pre-made camping Bingo cards online, or make your own. The beauty of making your own is that you can tailor the cards to where you’re going. Naturally, there will be different scenery depending on where in the world you’re heading.
For example, standard forest camping may include more plant life, like different kinds of leaves, pine needles, and more. Meanwhile, camping in a desert might include other kinds of materials like rocks, sand, and maybe even specific landmarks around the camping area.
This can be made very simple so toddlers can experience the excitement of finding a “log”, or a “big rock”.
Sponge Water Fight
When most of us think about having a water fight, we imagine it being with water balloons. However, there are a number of reasons balloons may not be the greatest idea. They can hit somewhat hard, which isn’t ideal for toddlers. Additionally, broken balloons may get left behind, and that can affect local wildlife in unpleasant ways.
Instead, making your own sponge bombs can be a vast improvement. It essentially includes connecting several sponges together. The Inner Child Fun blog offers a great tutorial on putting together your own sponge bombs quickly and easily.
Once you’ve made enough sponge bombs, all you need to do is get them wet and give them a toss. These bombs are going to be softer on small children, and they are easier to get damp again when they start to dry out. Furthermore, you can reuse them!
Search Out or Sneaky Bear
Both Search Out and Sneaky Bear are games you can enjoy with your toddler without having to spend any extra money at all. These games can make use of the toys you already have unless you want to add in a few special surprises voluntarily.
The game “Search Out” essentially includes hiding toys around the area. That could be at the campsite or even in the tent. Make sure that the toys are somewhat hidden but easy enough for a toddler to find. Then, help them to look for the toys and count how many they have been able to find.
Similarly, Sneaky Bear is a game in which toddlers have to figure out what items are missing from a group. It involves placing three toys in an area. Then, whoever is the “camper” needs to cover themselves up and pretend to take a nap. Meanwhile, the sneaky bear will take one of the objects. When the camper is awake, they have to figure out which toy was taken away.
In this scenario Mom or Dad can be the sneaky bear, while the camper can be the child.
- The “camper” pretends to go to sleep next to a few different toys
- The sneaky bear takes one of the toys
- The camper wakes up and tries to tell which toy is missing
There’s no place greater than the great outdoors to create an obstacle course. It’s a fun activity that will keep small children entertained and give them a safe place to use up the seemingly endless amount of energy they can sometimes have.
You can also create an obstacle course from items you might have around already. Things like pool noodles and hula hoops can be used in making an obstacle course that will be just the right level of difficulty for a toddler. With multiple children, you can even set up a pair of courses so they can race to the end.
Naturally, you can set up your obstacle course however you see fit. That said, if you want a guide to help with getting ideas, you can find a great one at Pre-K Pages. This obstacle course uses hula hoops, buckets, pool noodles and more for tons of fun!
For an inexpensive way to create some fun memories and a good time for your toddler, you can create a discovery bottle. For young children, these bottles can be a fantastic way to help toddlers with their vision as well a motor skills (when they shake it up).
Another great aspect of discovery bottles is that the options are wide open for making them. Most importantly, you will need some water and a bottle that seals very well. From that point, you can use fun craft items like glitter, puffballs, food coloring and more.
For a camping-specific discovery bottle, you might also choose to include some items from around the camping space. Check to make sure it’s allowed first, just in case! Then, try to use items that will grab your child’s attention. Additionally, make sure all the items inside are safe for your child’s age range.
When you’re staying in a campground, there are often paved areas around the campsites as well as a paved parking space within them. Toddlers are sure to enjoy brightening some of that space up with the help of some sidewalk chalk.
Chalk is easy to play with, you can find it in easy-to-hold sizes, and you can even use it to play some games like tic tac toe. If you feel like being creative as well, you can sit and enjoy spending some time drawing and coloring on the paved areas.
For the most part, campgrounds don’t typically have a problem with standard sidewalk chalk art. It’s simple and tends to wash away as soon as it rains. However, it’s a good idea to just verify with the campground you plan to visit that it’s okay to use.
Other types of bowling may get a bit tricky for toddlers. They haven’t quite gotten the hang of aiming just yet! However, you can still create an outdoor bowling game they are sure to enjoy. The ingredients require little to no added purchases, assuming you have some soda bottles, a beach ball, and some pool noodles around!
For some more guidance on this specific outdoor bowling setup, the Polkadot Chair blog has some very clear instructions. This is a great way to go if you’d rather DIY a bowling set rather than have to purchase a toddler-specific outdoor bowling game.
The larger ball makes it easier for toddlers to hit their target. Beach balls also tend to be very lightweight, which is great for the little ones. While not always necessary, the pool noodles also help to make sure the ball gets where it needs to go.
Stories are an easy way to keep toddlers entertained, and they cost nothing at all. While you’re camping, you can make up stories for your little one to enjoy related to camping, different things in nature, and more. If our toddler is engaged enough, they may even be able to help with telling some stories!
It can be as simple as asking them what they think about certain animals or events going on around you. For example, if you see a squirrel run up into a tree you can ask your toddler if they think that’s the squirrel’s home and go from there.
Otherwise, you can make up stories yourself about those topics. The stories can be silly, cute, or even a little bit spooky if you think your child can handle it.
I have many fond memories of listening to my dad’s stories around the campfire–it’s such a fun experience and is always kind of magical.
Memory games are a fantastic way for children to work on their memory skills while they’re in the outdoors. You can also purchase a memory game like this giant memory game on Amazon, featuring the Finding Dory characters many children love.
That said, you don’t have to purchase a memory game in order to have a good time. You can make your very own giant memory card game that you can personalize to your child’s likes. On top of that, you can add to the game over time as they grow older to give them more of a challenge.
Memory games, along with outdoor Bingo and others, can be great for kids even after they’ve moved on from the toddler stages. However, there’s often more to know about keeping kids happy end entertained while camping as they age. In our article on camping with a 4-year-old, you’ll find out exactly what you need to do to keep those kids above the toddler ages happy as well. Check it out here.
You can use paper plates, cardboard or even foam to make your memory game, as well as any images your kid might find appealing. If you want a solid example of a memory game that looks great and keeps things simple, you can find one at the Studio DIY blog.
Hopscotch is a great game for children of all ages. It may be a little tougher for toddlers in some cases, but the good news is the game can absolutely be adapted for little ones to have a good time with as well. It all depends on how you set up the hopscotch space.
Most of the time, hopscotch can be created by just using some chalk in a paved area. For toddlers, make sure that the spaces for them to jump in are nice and big, and that there isn’t too much room in between those spaces. The goal is to help them to succeed!
If you want to, you can also use colors or numbers to make the game a bit more challenging. For example, you can create challenges by having them avoid a color or try to only hop on certain numbers. Overall, hopscotch can be a really fun way to help your child with their motor skills.
You can keep toddlers entertained for quite a while with some inexpensive toys and ice! Once you’ve gathered up plenty of toys, you can add them into a bowl or other container and freeze them in some water. Then, your child will need to spend some time and effort to discover the treasures hidden in the ice.
For this, it’s best to use a container that you can easily get the ice out of once it has frozen. That way, it will be able to melt a little more easily and your child can work at the ice from different angles. Add in some special tools like brushes, salt, a toy hammer and more and they’ll practically be an archeologist!
The ice discovery activity is a great one. You can tailor the treasures inside to match your child’s interests and they’re sure to be entertained for hours trying to set all the toys free. Macaroni Kid offers a great guide on putting your ice discovery block together with ease.
You’ll need a cooler to store the ice when you’re camping. If you are planning on freezing items for a long period of time, then you might consider using dry ice to make a small miniature freezer. If you’re new to using dry ice, you can check out our article that talks about how much you need and some other tips for using dry ice while camping.
Duck Duck Goose
There are few games simpler than Duck Duck Goose. However, this is a game you’ll need multiple people to play. Because of that, it’s much more suitable for situations where you’re camping with multiple children. That way, they all get to have fun playing.
If you’re unfamiliar with Duck Duck Goose or perhaps know a different version, the game is simple. The children sit in a circle, with one of them chosen to select a “Goose”. That child then goes around the circle, tapping each of the other children lightly and saying “Duck” until they’ve chosen someone to be the “Goose”.
The “Goose” then chases the picker around the circle. If the picker is able to make it back to the spot in the circle that is now empty, the “Goose” then becomes the picker and the game begins again.
You can always change the animals. I remember playing with a kid that said “tilapia” instead of duck–so you can customize it however you want.
There’s a lot less worry about paint making a mess in the outdoors. As a result, it’s a perfect time to get creative! Toddlers are sure to enjoy creating colorful shapes, animals, or just experimenting until they’ve created something they like.
If you want to keep it simple, you can set them up with some finger paints or standard brushes. Having a child-sized camping table is a great idea for this activity, as you won’t have to worry as much about it getting messy. The good news is that messes are much less of a problem when you’re camping.
You can make the painting process even more fun by coming up with new ways to paint. Rocks and leaves in the area can create unique prints your child will love. Otherwise, you can also load up a few inexpensive water gun with paint and let them use those to apply paint to paper for hours on end.
You’re going to need to keep your little artist well-fed while you’re camping as well. Otherwise, there may be many tantrums! Not only can packing camping food be trickier than food at home, but it can also get more difficult if you have a picky little one to feed. Luckily, our article on what to eat with hot dogs can take a simple meal and add some more flair to it to keep everyone happy. Take a look at it here!
If you’re looking for some fun that is a bit less messy, bubbles are a great way to go. You can spend time blowing regular bubbles for your child to follow around and pop, teach them how to blow bubbles, or get them some larger bubble blowers to create massive bubble fun.
Although containers of bubbles may be available in just about any store, it can often be a lot less expensive to just make your own. The Spruce Crafts has come up with a fantastic recipe for making your own bubbles for your child to enjoy.
To add a bit more creativity, you can even consider adding some food coloring to the mixture. This will create colorful bubbles that will catch the eye even more.